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Judicial conduct & complaints

Judicial conduct & complaints

Guide to judicial conduct

Guide to judicial conduct - PDF version

Judicial complaints procedure

Judicial complaints procedure - PDF version.

1. Any complaint against a Justice of the Supreme Court when acting in that capacity, by whomever received, shall in the first instance be passed to the Chief Executive. Complaints must be made within three months of the date for matters about which the complaint is being made. If the complaint relates only to the effect of a judicial decision or discloses no ground of complaint calling for consideration the Chief Executive if she thinks it appropriate, shall take no action save to inform the complainant (if identifiable) that no action will be taken.

2. In any other case the Chief Executive shall refer the complaint to the President, unless the complaint relates to the President, in which case it shall be referred to the Deputy President, unless the complaint relates also to the Deputy President, in which case it shall be referred to the most senior member of the Court to whom it does not relate.

3. The President or Deputy President or Senior member, as the case may be, (hereafter "the appropriate member"), shall then consult the next senior member of the court to whom the complaint does not relate and, having done so, may:

  1. take no action; or
  2. bring the complaint to the notice of the member who is the subject of the complaint and resolve the matter informally; or
  3. consider taking formal action as defined below.

In the event of either 3(i) or 3(ii) being pursued the reasons for that action being taken should be recorded and filed.

4. Consideration of taking formal action will be appropriate, whether or not any complaint is made, where a member of the Court is finally convicted of any offence which might reasonably be thought to throw serious doubt on that member's character, integrity or continuing fitness to hold office or where a member's conduct otherwise appears to be such as to throw serious doubt on that member's continuing fitness to hold office.

5. Where formal action is under consideration the appropriate member shall (1) inform the member who conduct is in question of that fact and of the matters alleged against him or her, (2) inform the Lord Chancellor of the facts so far as they are known, and (3) consult the Lord Chancellor on the action to be taken.

6. Having taken steps listed in paragraph 5 above, the appropriate member may, if it is considered appropriate to do so, initiate formal action.

7. Formal action shall mean:

  1. that a tribunal is established comprising the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland (or, if any of them is disqualified, the next most senior Judge in that jurisdiction) and two independent persons of high standing nominated by the Lord Chancellor, to be chaired by whichever of the three first-named office-holders has longest held his or her office;
  2. that the member whose conduct is in question shall be informed of the full details of what is said against him or her;
  3. that the tribunal shall investigate the accusation or complaint adopting such procedure as shall be fair and as expeditious as it consistent with fairness;
  4. that the tribunal shall make a report summarizing the facts as found by the tribunal so far as relevant and recommending the action, if any, to be taken;
  5. that the tribunal shall deliver this report to the appropriate member and provide a copy to the member whose conduct is in question;
  6. that the appropriate member shall deliver the report to the Lord Chancellor;
  7. that the Lord Chancellor shall decide whether to initiate action to remove from office the member whose conduct is in question and, if he judges it appropriate to do so, shall take such action pursuant to section 33 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

8. Whether or not the Lord Chancellor decides to take action to remove the member from office, he or she may publish the report made by the tribunal.

9. The member against whom a complaint or accusation is made may at any time vacate his or her office voluntarily, without prejudice to any other action which may be taken against him or her, and formal action may be discontinued at any stage.

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UKSC Complaints policy (administrative)

1. This policy sets out the procedures to follow if you have an administrative complaint. This could include

  1. a complaint about how your case has been dealt with
  2. a complaint about a member of staff (except the Chief Executive)
  3. a complaint about a UKSC administrative policy or consultation.

2. For complaints about a Justice or the Registrar in carrying out their judicial functions please see paragraph 20 below. For decisions of the court please see paragraph 5 below.

3. If you wish to make a complaint about an administrative issue, which includes complaints about members of staff or non-judicial activities undertaken by the court please set out the details as clearly as possible in an email to:

or in a letter to

Complaints Team
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Parliament Square
London SW1P 3BD

4. Please ensure your email has the words 'Formal complaint' in the subject header or head your letter with the words 'Formal complaint.'

Complaints about decisions made by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

5. The UKSC is a final court of appeal and as such its decisions cannot be appealed in the United Kingdom. There is no avenue by which you can make a formal complaint about its decisions. If you complain about the outcome of any application or appeal, please be aware that whilst your complaint will be filed and you will receive an acknowledgment it will not be treated as a complaint and the court will not respond substantively.

How will my complaint be handled?

6. We treat all complaints seriously. When we receive your complaint the Complaints Team will investigate the details in consultation with the appropriate department. Our reply to you will come from the Complaints Team on behalf of the senior member of staff with oversight of the area of complaint (the Chief Executive, the Director of Corporate Services, or the Registrar).

7. Our aim is to

  1. Acknowledge complaints within 5 working days
  2. Respond substantively to complaints within 20 working days of acknowledgment

If it is not going to be possible to keep to those deadlines you will be informed.

8. We record all complaints so that we may learn from them.

9. If we decide your complaint should be upheld we will apologise and explain how we intend to put the situation right.

10. If we decide your complaint should not be upheld we will explain why.

11. If we cannot uphold your complaint we will inform you of any steps you can take if you want it investigated further. Please see paragraph 14 below for how to ask for a review of your complaint outcome.

12. Please note no member of UKSC staff will tolerate inappropriate or unacceptable communications. We will not acknowledge or respond to rude or abusive letters, emails or telephone calls and in the case of telephone calls, we will politely end the call. In all circumstances communications of this nature will be referred to the Director of Corporate Services and Change who will consider what steps may be taken, including, if she considers it to be appropriate, notifying the police.

If your complaint is about the Chief Executive

13. If your complaint is about the conduct of the Chief Executive, you should write to or email the Complaints Team at the address given above. Your complaint will be forwarded to the President of the Supreme Court who will then ask a Non-Executive Director of the UKSC to investigate your complaint. The Non-Executive Director will report to the President and the Complaints Team will reply to you on the President's behalf.

Not satisfied with the outcome?

14. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint or with the way your complaint has been handled you must email or write within 14 days of receiving the outcome of your complaint to or the address given at paragraph 3 above

15. Please put "Review of complaint" in the subject header of your email or at the head of your letter.

16. The Complaints Team will acknowledge your email/letter and will refer the review to either the Director of Corporate Services and Change or the Registrar - namely an appropriate senior member of staff who was not involved in the original complaint response. They will look into the complaint and respond to you directly, but will copy in the Complaints Team. We aim to deal with reviews of complaints within 20 working days from acknowledgment.

Still not satisfied?

17. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the court you can ask the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to investigate.

18. The Ombudsman is completely independent from Government and the Civil Service. They investigate claims that individuals have suffered because a government department, agency or other public body has not acted properly or fairly or has provided a poor service.

19. You cannot approach the Ombudsman yourself, but may ask a Member of Parliament (MP) to do this for you. You can contact the Ombudsman on their telephone helpline 0345 015 4033 or via their website:

Complaints about the conduct of a Justice or the Registrar

20. If you have a complaint about the conduct of a Justice or the Registrar follow the procedure set out in the court's judicial complaints procedure: Please send your complaint to or the address given at paragraph 3 above with "Conduct of a Justice" in the subject header; or if writing a letter please head the letter with "Conduct of a Justice".

Government Policy

21. We do not deal with complaints about Government policy. If you have a complaint about Government policy, you should write to your MP or to the relevant Government Department's Minister.

February 2023

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Supplementary Panel

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